I’ve been struck by the recent proliferation of audio microblogging or micropodcasting (or micro audioblogging?) apps out there. In addition to Jott (read one of our reviews) and Utterli, there is now Trottr, Chirbit and AudioBoo, just to name a few. While micropodcasting hasn’t yet taken off in the way Twitter has (what has?), I really do see the value in having the ease of both picking up a telephone and the automation of the upload of your recording as a mini podcast on the Web.
A quick rundown of the ones we haven’t mentioned before on WWD:
AudioBoo – Using an iPhone app, you can easily record a message or podcast. The sound quality is good. Ease of use, check. Upload time — not too bad, but keep in mind this is eating your data plan, so make sure you have a good one. Listen to a sample recording.
Chirbit – You can upload an MP3 or record straight from your computer, just like Utterli. Sound quality is not so great, so if that’s a concern, you want to try a USB mic. Without an iPhone app or number to call into, this app lacks true portability, unless you have your laptop with you wherever you go. Listen to a sample recording. You can also record a Text 2 Speech Chirbit. I’ve always thought Text 2 Speech sounds very creepy. You be the judge.
Trottr – Like Utterli, Trottr has a call-in number. Unlike Utterli, Trottr is much more international with multiple access numbers. Call in using any phone (you can register multiple phone numbers), speak into your phone, hang up. A cinch. Sound quality is fuzzy, so the quality of the phone connection definitely affects the end product. Listen to a sample recording.
Using an Audio Microblog
As I’ve been playing around with these sites, here are some ideas I’ve had about how we can use audio microblogging for our work.
1. Memos – The obvious use of private audio microblogs are audio memos to yourself or memos to people to whom you give access. I used to have a tiny digital recording device for this and frankly never used it. The few times I’ve tried to get in the habit of leaving myself audio reminders, I’ve forgotten to listen to them! But some swear by audio notes and memos.
2. Notes – While recording someone else’s speech or a meeting could be infringing on privacy or copyrights, using this for your own noncommercial and private purposes could certainly come in handy. Most audio microblogs do have a time limit, so they’re probably not ideal for trying to record an entire meeting or workshop, however, you could take notes or record snippets to share publicly (if appropriate) or use privately. I could see using it to recap meetings and phone conversations and sharing it with the people involved as a way to make sure we’re all on the same page.
3. Internal Tutorials – One of the hardest things to do when training new people is to get consistent instructions down in writing and then get new hires or team members to actually read them and follow them. I’ve started experimenting with audio podcasts of instructions for how we like to do things at our company. Using an outline is helpful so you don’t ramble. Shorter audio tutorials are also more effective than longer ones, so focus in on a single task per tutorial.
4. External Tutorials – In the same way audio recordings can be good teaching tools, you could extend this teaching outside of your team or organization and publish quick tips and how-to’s. While people tend to expect good production value from podcasts, I think they’re more forgiving about audio microblogs because they are more “in the moment” and conversational. Still, if you are going to go public with your audio lessons, a script is probably in order to keep the recordings concise and on track.
5. Audio Diary – If you are traveling, attending an event or are somewhere that others would like to be, you can send “audio postcards” or audio diary entries from the road. I can see how an audio recap of a workshop or lecture could be much easier to produce than writing out a summary and posting to a blog. If you are pressed for time or on the move, you could record your update in transit (as long as you have the right app, device and connectivity).
6. Conversation – Many of us use Twitter daily as a watercooler. An audio microblog could be the next step in these impromptu conversations. I do think, however, that the adoption of audio conversations will be slower going, as they’ve been on video microblogging sites. There are a core of avid users conversing with one another, but there is still something a little unfamiliar and odd about holding a conversation with audio or video that is not real time. We seem OK with this time lapse in text but less so in multimedia. Non-synchronous conversation is certainly handy when communicating between time zones. As people continue to adopt audio microblogging as another means of communication and publishing, I think that back and forth conversation among several or many will begin to come into its own.
What ways are you using or thinking about using audio microblogs?